Ken Waldichuk enters 2022 as the Yankees‘ No. 1 LHP prospect, and he opened up on his rise in a wide-ranging interview published Sunday by NJ Advance Media’s Randy Miller.
“The goal is to make it up to the big leagues, so it’s more how fast can I get there and how good can I be up there rather than how high of a ranking can I get,” Waldichuk said.
Waldichuk, 24, was a fifth-round pick and the 2019 MLB Draft’s No. 165 overall selection out of Saint Mary’s in California.
The 6-foot-4, 220-pound San Diego native posted a 6-3 record and 3.03 ERA in 110 IP over 23 games (21 starts) while splitting 2021 with High-A Huntington Valley and Double-A Somerset. Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre is next on Waldichuk’s road to MLB.
“I think I’m definitely close,” Waldichuk said. “I probably have to take another step or two with my command, but I think with the stuff I have right now and how it plays and how I can deploy my arsenal, I think I’m definitely setting myself up pretty well.”
The scouting report for Waldichuk includes a 60 fastball grade, 55 curveball, 55 slider, 50 changeup and 50 control.
“After operating with an 89-92 mph two-seam fastball during his college career, Waldichuk has adopted a four-seamer and repeatedly has hit 95-96 as a pro,” MLB.com said. “His heater plays as at least a plus pitch because it features quality shape and life, and hitters just don’t seem to be able to see it well. Scouts debate which of his breaking balls is better, but both his upper-70s curveball and low-80s slider show the potential to become solid offerings.
“Waldichuk also displays some feel for a changeup with fade, though it still needs more work. He uses his 6-foot-4 frame and low three-quarters arm slot to create angle and extension that makes it difficult to pick up his pitches, especially for left-handers. He has a history of throwing strikes but will need to refine his command to reach his ceiling as a mid-rotation starter.”